HP to pay $57 million to settle lawsuit for defrauding shareholders

It may have been overshadowed by pricier acquisition deals in subsequent years, but HP’s 2010 takeover of Palm remains a milestone event. It was a seemingly perfect combination of a highly competitive mobile operating system with a deep-pocketed hardware juggernaut. HP promised it would fund the future development of webOS and support it with a broad ecosystem of devices. Only a year later, however, the company reversed course and abandoned its touted plans, to the chagrin of hard-hit shareholders.

Hewlett-Packard Co agreed to pay $57 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the personal computer maker’s former management of defrauding shareholders by abandoning a business model it had long touted. The lawsuit was filed after former Chief Executive Leo Apotheker shocked investors on August 18, 2011 by announcing plans to refocus the company on business services and products. He also revealed plans to scrap WebOS, whose rights HP had obtained when it bought Palm Inc in 2010; pay $11.1 billion for British software company Autonomy Plc; and possibly spin off HP’s personal computer business. The company also halted sales of the TouchPad, after just seven weeks on the market. “HP has reached a mutually acceptable resolution through a mediated settlement,” said Sarah Pompei, an HP spokeswoman.

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